How to get ready for your next move?
By Marguerite Cleveland
It’s January but that is not too soon to start preparing for your next PCS move. All the buzz in the media right now is about Marie Kondo and her method to get rid of the clutter, but you don’t need to watch her Netflix show to find your own way to a clutter free move. The key is to plan ahead and to begin gradually purging until it is move time. Taking a gradual approach will lead to less stress.
- Tax Time – Now is a great time to get control of your paper. Consider going paperless for as much as you can. It will make address change time much easier. Let magazine subscriptions lapse and don’t renew until you get to your new duty station. Start thinking about what important documents like birth certificates, passports, and shot records you will need at your next duty station. Always hand carry these items. Military paperwork, save everything. I can’t tell you how many times over the years we needed an LES, a copy of orders or a travel voucher. We use a large binder with document protectors broken up into categories like orders, award certificates and travel vouchers.
- Toys and Kid Stuff – It wasn’t until recently that I learned that many childhood toys and collections that were lost in the move were actually purged before we moved. Move time is a good opportunity to cull through the stuff. Gradually start packing things up leaving out just a few favorites as you get closer to the move. For sets, put all the pieces together and box or tape up. Decide which you will keep and which you want to get rid of.
- Clothing – At the end of the winter season, go through all winter clothes. Wash coats, gloves etc and then pack away. Get rid of anything you don’t wish to keep. I am a huge fan of big plastic tubs. The top seals and keeps out bugs. As you get closer to the move pick which summer clothes you will travel with and then plan to have the rest packed up. Usually less is more when you pack for a trip but consider how long you will be without your household goods.
- Food – Start looking at what is in your freezer and as you get closer to the PCS plan meals to use up frozen food, open condiments and anything refrigerated. Usually unopened nonperishables can be shipped.
- Sentimental Items and kids projects – With this lifestyle we live it is not practical to save everything. I recommend purchasing a trunk for each member of the family. Mine contains some treasures from my childhood, my children’s first baby outfits, letters from deployments etc. With kids projects keep one or two per year, I usually keep the flat items as they are easier to store.
Now what to do with all the stuff you are getting rid of. First try to make a little money. I like to do a garage sale and I price to move the merchandise especially if I am going to donate what I don’t sell. It is amazing how quickly items priced $1 add up. Consignment stores are also an option. Usually the Thrift Shops on military installations are a good place to sell and donate. There are also online options like Ebay but you have to package and mail the items you sell. Whatever is left donate or recycle. Did you know items like the pile of plastic bags from the commissary can be donated to food banks so clients have something to carry the food in?
Prepping for a PCS move will definitely reduce your stress and it is not too early to start. What is your favorite tip to help plan for a PCS move?
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.WanderWordsWine.com